Childcare costs rose by 19% in 2013, says website

Nanny with child The cost of nannies and childminders has soared in the past year, a childcare website says

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Childcare costs rose by an average of 19% in the year to December 2013, according to a childcare website.

Findababysitter.com's annual report collected data from 231,000 nannies, childminders and other professionals.

The figures take no account of the free nursery places that the government funds.

The Department for Education says childcare costs are stabilising after more than a decade of rising prices.

The cost of nannies showed the biggest increase - from an average of £6.59 an hour in 2012 to £8.73 last year - a rise of 25%.

Findababysitter.com matches parents with professional childcarers. It has 300,000 members, and attracts a similar number of monthly visits.

Its chief executive, Tom Harrow, says paying for childcare is becoming "incrementally harder for parents each year".

He believes the rise is a consequence of an increase in demand for childcare, while the supply is remaining broadly static.

Other workers in the field say the figures may be skewed because they do not take nursery places into consideration. Three and four-year-olds are entitled to free nursery places, along with some of the most needy two-year-olds.

'Harming the economy'

Liz Bayram, of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, says she doubts overall childcare costs have risen by as much as 19%, but that cost pressures on carers, such as higher energy and food prices, are having an impact.

"Childcarers are among the poorest-paid professionals," she says, adding that "more current government funding should be delivered directly to families rather than getting lost in the system".

Labour says that the rising cost of childcare is harming the economy.

The shadow children's minister, Lucy Powell, says childcare costs "lock parents who want to get back to work out of the jobs market".

The Department for Education says it has increased free education for all three and four-year-olds from 12.5 to 15 hours a week, and extended support to two-year-olds from low-income families.

It says it is "taking decisive action" by introducing tax-free childcare, under which "all eligible families receive up to £1,200 towards each child's childcare costs", and is "meeting up to 70 per cent of childcare costs for low and middle-income families through tax credits."

In addition to collating raw data from their members, findababysitter.com also surveyed 1,000 users of their site to find out how they felt about childcare issues.

Their omnibus survey of 1,000 parents of at least one child aged under 10 was conducted between the 4 and 8 November 2013.

They found that almost a quarter of the unemployed parents they surveyed would like to work, but are stopped from doing so by childcare costs.

Nanny share

The problem was more marked among younger parents aged 18 to 24, of whom 38% said they would like to work if they could afford to pay for childcare.

While the survey suggests parents have a generally negative attitude towards government policies on childcare, those feelings appear to be gradually becoming more favourable.

More than half the parents questioned felt the government was not doing enough to help them - but that represented an improvement of 7% on the previous year.

The survey also suggests that parents are more supportive of government policies the more children they have. Only 17% of parents of one child thought the government was "doing enough", with the figure rising to 37% for parents of three children.

The biggest disapproval rating was among stay-at-home parents, with 60% saying the government should do more to help parents.

Findababysitter.com also says the childcare market is evolving, with a big increase in demand for nanny shares. There was a 226% increase in the use of the term "nanny share" on the search function of its website last year.

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